Come CES 2014, Google is going to be one of the companies to have news for us. Google and YouTube will reportedly be showing off 4K video at the event in Las Vegas next week and it will be based on a new royalty-free codec the company has been developing.
GigaOM has reported that the 4K video will be based on VP9, Google’s new codec that aims to replace the H.265 that’s at the heart of multiple 4K implementations. This isn’t the first time Google has attempted to create a royalty-free codec to replace a commercial video format. The VP8 video codec came in 2010 and aimed to be a standard for plugin-free video streaming. Evidently, the plans didn’t work out thanks to lack of hardware support, but Google seems to have plugged that gap now.
4K videos with VP9 codec (TV image credit: Getty Images)
Google has announced that most major hardware vendors will be supporting VP9 natively in their products soon. This will allow YouTube to stream HD content up to 4K on devices such as computers, TVs and mobiles. Companies named by Google include chip-makers ARM, Intel, Broadcom and Marvell, and display behemoths such as Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba.
YouTube’s Global Director of Platform Partnerships, Francisco Varela, said that the company did not intend for VP9 to become an “either-or” option for companies. “This certainly isn’t a war of the video codecs,” he said, keeping the possibility that YouTube could support H.265 too.
The move to VP9, however, should help YouTube bring you HD videos for less than 50 percent of the data currently used. He’s also said that the technology is set to come to PCs and mobile devices first, so if you’re thinking about a TV that supports VP9, you may have to wait till early next year to see the first models being shipped out with it.